The Florida Project (Sean Baker – 2017) B+

Right next to Walt Disney World, right next door, close enough to see and hear helicopters fly in and out of there shuttling the more fortunate people, there is a stretch of low-end motels. Single moms, single dads, single grandparents,…you get the idea, occupy the rooms in those motels. We meet Moonee, living with her mom Halley in one of those places. It is shaped and painted to look like a castle with turrets and everything. The film basically follows her as she spends time with her friends. They play, get in trouble, harass tourists and beg for free ice cream. The realistic acting that Baker manages to get from these kids is really amazing. They dominate a good 50% of the movie and they never feel like they are forcing a performance. The other 50% is the life of the adults, Moonee’s mom is clearly not the mom of the year but we have no idea how she ended up in this situation. She tries to get money by dancing, selling cheap perfume to tourists next door and worse. Willem DaFoe plays Bobby, the motel manager. He is a good guy, feels responsible for people like Moonee and her mom but is really helpless to do that much to take them out of this situation. When the final act rolls around, still in the shadow of the “Happiest Place on Earth”, it is inevitable but very depressing none the less.

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